The Beauty is in the Details

The part of his job that HVAC technician Stephen Genakos loves the most is looking closely at a big 40-ton rooftop AC unit and identifying those small little parts that aren’t working just right.


“Here’s what I would tell my 18-year-old self if I were doing it all over again,” Genakos said, “when you come up to a big machine, it can be overwhelming. But the key is not to try to think of the entire machine at once. Instead, just break it up into smaller pieces.”

A resident of Townsend, Mass., Genakos is an HVACR technician with the Raytheon manufacturing plant located in nearby Andover, Mass., where he has worked for the past two years. He’s been a professional HVACR technician for about 14 years.

Genakos path to becoming an HVACR technician began when he was 14 years old, when he entered Greater Lowell Technical High School. It was there, working with shop teacher Bruce Skaff that Genakos learned what a career in HVACR might be like.

“He had a side business as an HVACR technician and one day, he showed me a check he earned for two hours of work,” Genakos said. “That made a big impression on me. I also learned that I liked to work with my hands.”

After high school Genakos found jobs scarce for HVACR technicians. It was the early 2000’s and the country’s economy was in a recession. So he took work as a sheet metal fabricator apprentice. But during that time, the desire to become an HVACR technician never left him. Eventually, he found an opening, first in the commercial refrigeration field as a field tech with Medford Wellington Service Co., and then as an HVACR technician in Massachusetts General Hospital.

“While I was working at the hospital, I came to realize that HVACR was my calling,” Genakos said. “I came to realize that I could make a difference. Keeping people comfortable, especially patients who need to be kept comfortable to heal.”

As Genakos progressed throughout his career he was introduced to hard-working, American-made YELLOW JACKET HVACR tools.

“I think my favorite YELLOW JACKET tool is the Ratchet Bender,” said Genakos. “I mean it symbolizes everything that I respect about YELLOW JACKET. I’ve used many tools over the years, but I can pull out my Ratchet Bender and it’s as good as the day I bought it 12 years ago.”

“I pride myself on having the best tools around on hand,” he added. “And I put my tools through hell. But YELLOW JACKET tools — they’re true.”

Reflecting on his career, Genakos says the key to his success has been his work ethic and ability to keep learning. He says he learned from a number of seasoned professionals, but among them, Bob Ernst sticks out.

“I learned to listen well. Watch what they were doing. Not argue. And asked them smart questions,” Genakos said. “And it’s because of guys like Bob Ernst that I’m never afraid to approach a new unit. I know that if I’ve never serviced a unit – and I’m talking the really big commercial units – I can learn. And if I have to, I’ll read every word of the technical manual before I let a new unit get the better of me.”

So what would Genakos tell someone who wants to become an HVACR technician?

“Work as hard as you can to become the best you can be,” said Genakos, a long-time Chicago Cubs fan. “No one is going to hand anything to you. You will get out as much as you put into it.”